Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Music Talk: Aya. Hard Rock's Missing Princess.

You know I just realized something. In all the years that I've been writing on this blog, not once have I talked about my love for music. So, let's remedy that right now. So yes, I love music. I like a bit of everything but my preferred genres are Rock music (all flavors of it), Metal, and video game music (shocking I know). In middle and high school, I considered myself something of a rock music aficionado. I mean, how could I not? I played the guitar some, I watched the music TV channels all the time (before they started to suck), and I listened to the radio all the time. Oh yeah, I was awesome. But then I went to Japan as an exchange student for a semester and discovered just how much of a dumb, dumb little boy I was. The trip was...well, mind blowing is a phrase that comes to mind. And I mean that in the best way possible. Seriously, Japan, I freaking love you.

Anyway, while I was there, I was exposed to a lot of Japanese Rock music. Of course, I wasn't completely ignorant of Japanese popular music. This was the early 2000's, back when Japanese Anime and Manga was really starting to become mainstream in the west, and a lot of anime that was released here maintained their original Japanese theme songs (which bizarrely was a novel idea at the time). So, as far as exposure goes, that was my first taste. But none of the artists and bands I discovered on the trip had any presence whatsoever in the states that I was aware of, not even in anime. Artist like hide, Glay, X Japan, Luna Sea, J. Malice Mizer, Christ, it was like discovering a whole new universe. Why wasn't this awesomeness popular in America? But anyway, after I got home, I scoured the internet for any Japanese rock music I could. Eventually, I came across an artist that blew my mind even more. Why? Becuase, while a lot of popular Japanese rock music leans towards Glam, this chick was playing pure, unadulterated Grunge. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Hard Rock's missing princess, Aya :

Flowers In the Battlefield
Album cover.
Originally from Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, Aya was first inspired to pick up the guitar after attending a concert of the American band, The Ventures. Eventually, she made her way to Tokyo, where her first big break came after she was invited to audition for a band at a Pop Music vocal contest. Although she won, the songwriter they were gonna work with died and their debut never happened. Aya was close to giving on being a musician...and then she discovered that she was damn good at songwriting. So good in fact that, by the time she was discovered and signed to the record label BGM Japan...she already had 30 songs ready to go. Her first single, Hands, was released to the public in 2001. Her first album, A Flower In The Battlefield was released one year later. Later in 2003, Aya released a Seven track Mini-Album called The Forbidden Song. Although a huge critical success, The Forbidden Song's time in the spotlight was short-lived. When in 2004...something a bit more exciting happened. That year, Aya released her best album to date. Baghdad Sky. Why is it her best? Just listen...

Yeah....don't tell me that's not awesome. So where did she go from here? Well, she kinda dropped off the face of the earth. No really. No one knows why, but Aya went radio silent in 2006 and didn't reemerge until 2015 when she announced her new band, Cruel She (or She Cruel, I dunno, I've seen it spelled both ways). Although no new album has been announced, the band has performed at Clubs in Japan and even has a Youtube Channel with some demos, and even one new song, ANGELICA . (among other things).
Aya is everything I LOVE about rock music. Her music is guitar driven, heavy and feels so real that you could reach out and touch it. That last one is hard to explain but think of the feeling you get when you're listening to, say, Led Zeppelin's Kashmir, or The Doors' Break on Through To The Other Side, and you'll see what I mean. As for her style, well, as I said, it's very reminiscent of Grunge, but I don't think that it fits perfectly within that label. Becuase while Aya has plenty of hard songs like Prisoner (see the first video), she has just as many slower, more melodic songs like Shadows on The Road.  Regardless, Her style is one that you don't really see in the American mainstream anymore. Hell, come to think of it, you don't even see it in Japan all that much. But that's what I love about her music, she doesn't care about trends or what's popular, she does what she wants.

If you're wondering where you can get ahold of her music...well, unless you live in Japan, you can't. So far as I've been able to find, all of her CD's are currently out of print and only one of them, Baghdad Sky, is available on Itunes...the British version of Itunes. And its not even the full album. Keep in mind, however, I haven't been able to access the Japanese version of Itunes, so I don't know if her music is on there or not. Your only hope is Ebay or go on to Amazon and hope to god someone is selling her CDs. Also, "Aya" is a very common Japanese name, so unless you know the title of the CD you want, she's gonna be hard to find.

Regardless, if you have the chance to obtain any of her music, do it.

And that's gonna be all for now, Dear Readers. I'll see you next time.

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